top of page

Procreate Liquify Part 1: Getting Started

Updated: May 9, 2022

Push, Twirl, Pinch, and Expand. A mini Procreate tutorial

What do those Liquify tools do? Using Liquify in Procreate creates beautifully satisfying effects. It's a super fun to use for creating a variety of unusual effects you can use to add value and interest to your creations.

There are six Liquify tools and there are four Dynamic controls that change how those tools work, and three controls you can use to 'repair' unintentional surprises. Using the Liquify tools can seem intimidating at first, but with practice and experimenting you can learn how to control these powerful tools and quickly repair unintended outcomes.

In this Part 1 tutorial we'll explore four of most used Liquify tools, Push, Twirl, Pinch, and Expand and touch on what the Dynamic controls do and use some 'repair' tools. Let's Liquify!

There are a couple tools besides the ones we'll go over in this quick tutorial, if you'd like more information about Procreate check out the Procreate Handbook.

Info/specs for what I'm using for this tutorial:

• 1st gen iPad Pro (11”, 256GB)

• 2nd gen. Apple Pencil

• Procreate app (v. 5.2)

1. Get Ready.

Create your canvas (most any size will work) and make three layers, label them Push, Twirl, Pinch, and Expand. Fill each Layer with a base color. Select a Brush and paint two contrasting colors on each layer. I used the built in Round Brush, but any Brush will work.

To take full advantage of the Liquify Tools be sure to paint your two contrasting colors on the same color filled layer.

2. Liquify.

When you're finished filling and painting your three layers, select your Push Layer and go to Adjustments and then select Liquify.

3. The Push Tool and Dynamic Controls.

Select the Push tool. Push simply moves your pixels (color) in the direction of your stroke.

The four Dynamic controls:

Size does what you'd expect, increasing or decreasing the size of your stroke.

Pressure controls the strength of the warping effect.

Distortion makes the effect more chaotic and intense.

Momentum continues your stroke after you lift off of the canvas.

Experimenting with these four controls will build up experience and confidence.

4. Using the Push Tool.

Pick up your stylus or Apple Pencil and use it to paint the distorting effects of the Push tool. Increase or decrease the Size and Pressure to get different results, and push and move your colors into intriguing and fun shapes.

If things start to get out of hand and you want to repair an area, select Reconstruct and paint over the area you want to change and that area will go back to its original shape.

If you want to totally reset your image select Reset and it will return the entire image to its original shape.

Tap Adjust to show the Amount slider. Drag it to the left to reduce the amount of the effect you've applied.

When you are finished using the Push Tool and want to move onto to the next warping tool, tap on the Layers icon at the top right and it will bring you back to your canvas. You can return this to this Layer to Liquify and keep working on it later if you desire to do so.

5. Twirl Tool.

Turn off your Push layer and select your Twirl Layer. Go to Adjustments and then Liquify.

Turn off the other layers, otherwise the top layer will show up in Liquify over the top of the selected layer you want to work on.

6. Left and Right Twirl Tools.

You have the options of using both Left and Right Twirls, the bigger the size setting the bigger the Twirl. You can keep your stylus in one spot or paint through your colors and also switch between Left and Right Twirls. Increase Distortion for more 'tornadoes'. Keep the Distortion setting to None to produce a more consistent single twirl.

7. Ready for Pinch and Expand.

When you're ready to move on to Pinch and Expand, go back to your Layers and turn off all the other layers you are not currently working on and select the Pinch Expand layer and return to Liquify.

8. The Pinch Tool.

The Pinch tool sucks the surrounding pixels in towards your stroke. You can control the Size and Pressure (strength) of the pinch, Distortion can cause some odd little artifacts to the pinch.

9. The Expand Tool.

The Expand tool pushes the surrounding pixels away from your stroke creating a ballooning effect. After using Expand you might notice some blurriness around the edges of the colors. If that's not the effect you want, use Reconstruct to get that area back to the way it was.

10. Closing Remarks.

We looked at four of the six Liquify tools, Push, Twirl, Pinch, and Expand and used the Dynamic controls and repair options in Liquify. There will be a follow up Procreate Liquify quick tutorial (posting in the last week of February, 2022) on how to use the other two warping tools, Crystals and Edge, and to take a closer look at the repair options.

Confidence using the Liquify tools opens up new opportunities to enrich your creations with unique, intriguing, beautiful colors, and effects. Besides being simply cool, use your Liquified images for your projects, as a background, Mask them into shapes, use them as part of an illustration, make dreamy reflections, smoke and much more.

This cosmic image started out with the Twirl tool, and then was clipped into a circle using a clipping mask. The Procreate built in Soft Airbrush was used to shade and highlight, and stars were made with Glimmer, a built in Procreate Luminance Brush.

Good luck and happy Liquifying!

Written by Wendy Wittner | Illustration, Graphic Design | February 2022

bottom of page